The Jailbird

THE JAILBIRD (Episode 90)

© Aaron A. A

It is the Sunday after Chris and Junior left the hospital, and dinner is at the Mission Manse.

It had been a very emotional day in church that day.

For the very first time Reverend Brand Bawa had embraced his wh0le family who were with him on the podium. The rest of them had publicly apologized to Chris for their treatment of him, and it had been a really deep passionate moment that had brought out tears, and unified the family.
After church they had retired to the Mission Manse for a family dinner.

Chris had gone to the kitchen and wh¡pped out a culinary torture that had made them scre-m to be served even when the food was not completely done.

Dinner itself is nice and deeply fulfilling.
Apart from the sumptuous meal, there is a deep inner feeling of being complete once again, and everybody trying to make Chris feel welcomed and a part of the family.

After dinner they retire to the living-room whilst the children go out and play.
Stan Bawa, who had been somewhat laid back during the wh0le reunion, suddenly gets to his feet and, looking acutely uncomfortable, surveys them with sad eyes.
For a moment he finds it hærd to speak, but Esther reaches up and gives his hand a squeeze of encouragement.

I have something to say.
They all stop speaking and look at him.
Effe, who is leaning against Chris and trying to stick a piece of carrot into his mouth, suddenly pauses and sits up slowly.

She casts a furtive glance at Chris.

She knows that somewhere deep down, Chris is still not comfortable with Stan.
Even though Effe had told him that Stan probably saved his life the day he accidentally shot himself in the th-gh and almost bled to death, he had still not quite completely felt comfortable with Stan.
Effe knows that Stan’s treatment of Chris had been very bad, ever since they had been kids, and it will take some time for the scars to really fade.

She can now see the sudden coldness on Chris’ face as soon as Stan begins to speak, and she reaches out for his arm and holds it lovingly.

I’m glad we’re all here like this, and I’m glad we’ve found a way round the excruciating moments that almost crippled this family. I must admit today, that no one treated Chris more terribly than I did.
There was no reason why I should’ve treated my own brother so badly, seeing he wasn’t to blame. Diana was also pretty bad to Chris too. But since we’re all here, and since we’ve decided to lay open our wounds so that we can heal, it is very important that we bring out all our bitterness and hurts so that we can heal together. Diana and I have hated Chris simply because our mother and Roland loved him so much, and we felt he didn’t belong here. Mother, before I go on, I want to ask you, is Chris REALLY our brother?

It is a staggering question.
Effe feels Chris going absolutely rock-still beside her.

One look at his face and she knows he has slipped into destructive mood, and she quickly turns to him fully, slipping her arm around his neck.

His handsome face is clouded over, and he seems to be carved from marble.

Mrs. Lois Bawa is so stunned that she is also wearing an expression that looks uncannily like Chris’, but there are sudden tears in her eyes.

The Reverend Brand Bawa exhales and leans forward suddenly, as if he has just received a massive blow in the solar plexus.
Only Diana, Esther and Kofi Dossah are looking a bit sad, but comparatively not shocked, and it dawns on Effe that they are all aware of what Stan is saying.

And what kind of foolish question is that, Stan? At this time? What ails you, boy?
Stan has frustrated tears in his eyes as he looks at his father.

You know what I’m talking about, father! This family has suffered too much! There are too many secrets in this family, and it is killing us! We need to address the issues now, father, before-

The reverend cuts in explosively, angrily, fearfully!

Cut out the drivel, son! There’s no issue to address! We almost lost your brother, now he’s here with us! Stop your bullcrapping!!
Without a word Chris gets to his feet, almost dislodging Effe, and he turns for the door.

Lois Bawa is on her feet immediately, and she rans to him, almost falling down in her haste to get to him.

She takes both of his hands, and her tears are burning embers that twist her face out of shape.

Chrissy, please, my darling! Please, don’t leave like this! Don’t take this to heart! I’ve lost you all your life, and I’ve been a most terrible mother to you! But I’m not going to lose you again, do you hear me? Not ever again!

Stan snorts with fresh pain as he looks at the love his mother is showing Chris.

You see what I mean, mother? It has always been like this! Chris, Chris, Chris!! He is the one you love most, and you don’t even try to hide it from the rest of us! We’re your children too, mother! Goddamn it, no parents have the right to have favourites, and even if they did, it is good to hide it, at least to the other siblings! But you, mother, you make it so plain, so blatant, that all you care about is Chris, Chris, Chris! Even his son is your favourite amongst the grandchildren!

Stop that idiocy right now, Stan! What the hell has gotten into you? Today is supposed to be a happy day, and what do you want to turn it into?

Diana speaks sadly then, tears trickling down her own eyes as her husband holds her hands tenderly.

When Stan was a child he fell sick once, father. He was asleep in the attic, and you and mom didn’t know that. He heard you quarrelling bitterly with mom. You were accusing her that Chris is not your son, that he is the son of someone called Chris Grant. It was shortly after Roland’s death, when Chris was taken to the correctional institute. It seems this Chris Grant was Mom’s lover, and father caught the two of them in a hotel room and shortly afterwards Chris was born. Father was convinced Chris was the son of this Chris Grant! And of course it is blatant, isn’t it, mother? Stan, Roland and myself… we look so alike, so like father. Chris, on the other hand is the odd one out. He is quite tall, quite handsome, lighter-skinned, absolutely different from us. When Stan heard that news he told me, and since then apart from erroneously blaming Chris for Roland’s death, we began to hate him, because it seemed you were unfaithful to Dad,
mother, and had a son with your lover, and you loved that son more than any of us. It hurt us a lot, mother!

(weeping, gasping, emotional)
Yes, and even Roland! We were the two eldest sons, but Roland loved Chris so much, more than me, going everywhere with him! And he left that CD about his death to Chris! Chris, Chris, Chris… always Chris! It hurts, mother! It hurts so bad!
Chris’ handsome face is like thunder.
He steps away from his mother, and his wh0le frame is vibrating.

Effe knows he is just a second away from hitting out, from going explosive, from giving vent to that devastating fury he has never learnt to master.

Lois Bawa is looking at Stan with horror.
The reverend is on his feet, suddenly looking old and aged, forlorn and lost, and he rubs his face with a rubbery hand.

Effe gets to her feet and blocks Chris as he heads for the door.

(deeply agitated)
Chris-Love! Don’t do this! Look at me, Chris, please! Breathe, my love! Breathe! Chris-Love, don’t allow that other one to emerge, please, please! Don’t stress me out, it’s not good for your daughter.

Chris looks at her.

There are tears in his eyes now, and trembling badly, he grabs her upper arms.
His face is tortured, lost, frightened.
He shakes his head numbly.

Dear Lord! I’m the bastard of the family, aren’t I? I always have been! It makes so much sense now! I don’t have anybody! I can’t take this, my love, I simply can’t. Let’s leave here! Please let’s go!

He turns blindly towards the door.

He reaches for the handle, and Lois Bawa utters a startled cry and drags him back, and then she blocks the door with her back.

Please, my son, darling, listen to me! Please don’t go!

Chris looks at his mother with disgust and with deep acute pain.

You better get the hell away from me, woman, before you force me to do something I’ll regret! You cheated on Dad? You had the effrontery to cheat on Dad, and bring the pregnancy to him, and name me after your damn lover? How the hell could you do that? Get  the hell out of my sight. You don’t know just how much the sight of you disgusts me!

To be continued

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